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I was nothing but a lonely All-American boy
Michael (né Marvin) Lee Aday, a.k.a. Meat Loaf, is an American singer and actor best known for his 1977 album Bat Out of Hell and its two "sequels". With the assistance of songwriter/producer Jim Steinman, Meat Loaf's bombastic, Wagnerian style made a huge splash on the genre and paved the way for many arena rock bands to follow.
Born in Texas in 1947, Meat Loaf dabbled in musical theatre from an early age. When he received a draft notice in 1967, he tore it up, stole his father's credit card, and moved to California to break into the music industry. During the early '70s he made several forays into stardom - he performed in several small-time bands, released a duets album with Stoney Murphy which largely went under the radar, sang lead on Ted Nugent's Free-For-All album, and performed in touring productions of Hair and The Rocky Horror Show, landing a role in the film version of the latter. His big break was to come while performing in an off-Broadway show called More Than You Deserve, when he befriended its writer Jim Steinman. Steinman had been toying with a sci-fi Rock Opera adaptation of Peter Pan and saw Meat Loaf as ideal for the lead role in it. Though the project, called Neverland, never came to fruition, the songs Steinman wrote for it became the genesis of Bat Out of Hell.
After several years shopping the concept around before getting Todd Rundgren's attention, Bat Out of Hell hit the shelves in 1977. While not immediately a hit, the album grew with popularity over time and remains a perennial high-seller to this day, having spent 474 weeks on the charts in Britain (second only to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours at 478), and is presently the #5 best-selling album ever released (after Thriller, Back In Black, The Dark Side of the Moon, and Soundtrack from The Bodyguard). A "sequel" album, Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell, was released in 1993 with new songs by Steinman, including his only U.S. #1 single, "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)". A third in the series, Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose, was released in 2006 featuring songs written by him and by Bon Jovi lyricist Desmond Child. This was the first Bat album not produced and written solely by Steinman, although several older songs written or recorded by Steinman beforehand are featured. In addition to the Bat Out of Hell trilogy, Meat Loaf has released several other albums, with varying levels of involvement on Steinman's part.
Meat Loaf discography:
- Stoney and Meatloaf (1971)
- Bat Out of Hell (Songs by Jim Steinman) (1977)
- Dead Ringer (Songs by Jim Steinman) (1981)
- Midnight at the Lost and Found (1983)
- Bad Attitude (Features two songs by Jim Steinman) (1984)
- Blind Before I Stop (1986)
- Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell (Songs by Jim Steinman) (1993)
- Welcome to the Neighborhood (Features two songs by Jim Steinman) (1995)
- The Very Best of Meat Loaf (Worth noting as the only authorized compilation in Meat's career, featuring three new songs by Jim Steinman) (1999)
- Couldn't Have Said it Better (2003)
- Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose (Features seven songs by Jim Steinman) (2006)
- Hang Cool Teddy Bear (2010)
- Hell in a Handbasket (2011)
Notable film/TV appearances:
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) (Eddie, who gets eaten. "Meat Loaf again?")
- Wayne's World (1992) (Tiny)
- Tales from the Crypt - What's Cookin' (1992) (Chumley, who also gets eaten.)
- Spice World (1997) (Dennis)
- South Park - Chef Aid (1998) (Himself)
- Fight Club (1999) (Playing Robert Paulson)
- The Outer Limits - Gettysburg (2000) (Col. Angus Devine)
- Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (2006) (Jack Black's father)
- Hosting the Game Show Rock & a Hard Place on Direct TV's channel 101.
- Don't Forget the Lyrics (2009) (Contestant)
- Ghost Hunters (2009) (Guest Investigator)
- The Apprentice (2011) (Contestant)
Meat Loaf's music provides examples of;
- Abusive Parents: When he was younger, his father tried to kill him. This is not an exaggeration, his father came at him with a knife. A similar theme emerges in the song Objects In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are.
- Actor Allusion: He once guest-starred in an episode of House playing a guy named Eddie.
- Anti-Love Song: "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" and "Paradise By the Dashboard Light."
- Audience Participation Song: All together now: "You took the words right out of my mouth...oh, it must've been while you were kissing me..." When performing with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, he stopped the show because the singing from the audience was lacklustre, and he said they sounded like they were from Sydney. The audience suddenly got a lot more involved, but exploded when he screamed at the top of his lungs "ARE YOU TOO OLD TO STAND UP?!" During live shows, he has been known to stop the band mid-song and call out a particular audience member who was not singing along.
- Author Appeal: Jim Steinman really has a thing for Peter Pan - aside from Bat Out Of Hell itself, references to "lost boys" and never growing up or changing appear throughout his lyrics. Additionally, Meat Loaf's touring band is called "the Neverland Express".
- Badass Long Hair: Until recently at least.
- The Band Minus the Face: Jim Steinman's Bad For Good, an album he recorded with Meat Loaf's band after he'd lost his voice.
- Bittersweet Ending: "Lost Boys and Golden Girls" ends Back into Hell on this note.
- The Cameo: Saxophonist Lenny Pickett (best known for his work on Saturday Night Live) performs a riff at the beginning of "Good Girls Go To Heaven."
- Canon Dis Continuity: Stoney and Meatloaf has been out of print since before the CD era, and is not listed in the discography on Meat Loaf's website.
- Closer Than They Appear: Inverted with "Objects In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are".
- Concept Album: Hang Cool Teddy Bear, in which every song represents a possible future scenario in the life of a wounded soldier. Meat Loaf has also stated that every song Jim Steinman has ever written is treated as if it is part of the aforementioned, unproduced Neverland Rock Opera.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Often comes across as an eccentric character when he gives interviews. However, Meat also said that this was his first impression of Jim Steinman, whom he describes as, "One weird dude."
- The Cover Changes the Gender: Jim Steinman wrote "It's All Coming Back To Me Now" for a female vocalist. Meat Loaf's cover redoes it as a duet.
- Do Not Call Me Paul: Do not call him "Marvin". Don't even call him "Michael", for that matter.
- Double Entendre: Pervasive in Steinman's lyrics.
- Epic Instrumental Opener: "Bat Out Of Hell" and "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" both go about two minutes before the first vocals are heard.
- Epic Rocking: Many of Meat Loaf's songs (particularly those written by Jim Steinman) run considerably longer than the average pop tune and go through two or three major changes in key or tempo before the end. "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" is 7:38 in its short version, making it the longest song to ever reach #1 on the US charts. (The album version is an even twelve minutes -- Steinman reportedly wept when he was told they'd have to trim it down to get it on the radio. More to the point, Meat Loaf's autobiography describes the original studio version pre-album as fifteen minutes long, needing a shave presumably due to CD space.)
- Everything's Better with Motorcycles: Pervasive.
- Everything's Louder with Bagpipes: The main theme of "Everything Louder Than Everything Else" is played at the end of the song on bagpipes.
- The preceding content of the song suggests that the bagpipes might be there because of their common use at funerals.
- The Fifties: "Paradise By the Dashboard Light", thanks to its "doo-wopping" backup singers.
- Heavy Mithril: The artwork for the Bat Out of Hell trilogy is provided by fantasy illustrators Richard Corben, Michael Whelan, and Julie Bell, and makes frequent use of giant bats, motorcycle-riding swordsmen, and the like.
- Heroic BSOD: After the original Bat Out of Hell Tour, work on the follow up album was impeded by the theft of Jim Steinman's manuscript, which he apparently took a long time to get over.
- Heroic RROD: Meat Loaf has struggled with vocal polyps for decades due to his singing style and has lost his voice more than once.
- His habit of literally collapsing from exhaustion backstage after a performance nearly had fatal consequences when the crew didn't realize he was having a heart attack.
- Homoerotic Subtext: Meat believes that, to some extent, "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" is about him and Jim Steinman. He explained, "I love Jim Steinman, but I wouldn't French kiss him!"
- Intercourse with You: 99% of his output.
- Large Ham: His acting roles. His vocal delivery also qualifies. The Other Wiki categorizes his vocal range as "Dramatic tenor".
- Literal Genie: In "Paradise By the Dashboard Light," the singer swears to love his girl until the end of time. He then prays for the end of time so he can be released from his obligation.
- His promise comes off as a But Thou Must!, because his girl presses him really hard for that promise by refusing to have sex unless he makes that promise. Despite his repeated refrain of "Let me sleep on it/Baby, baby, let me sleep on it," she insists that she can wait all night for an answer, and finally, he makes his promise out of insanity following the pressure she applied.
- Logic Bomb: "Ev'rything Louder Than Ev'rything Else"
- Ludicrous Gibs: "...and the last thing is see is my heart...still beeeating...breaking out of my body and flying away...LIKE A BAT OUT OF HELL!!"
- The Man Behind the Man: Jim Steinman.
- Mood Whiplash: Tender love ballad one second, crude sexual innuendo the next.
"Oh, I know you belong inside my aching heart
- Music Video Overshadowing: Pretty much all of his videos that aren't straight performance videos.
- Numbered Sequels: On records, unusually enough.
- Ominous Spanish Chanting: "Monstro" from Bat Out Of Hell III.
- One-Scene Wonder:
- His role as Eddie in Rocky Horror. He bursts out of a freezer (on a motorcycle, of course), sings a song, and is not seen or heard from again. Until the dinner guests realize that he's become the main course. "Meatloaf again?!"
- He appears as Jack Black's father in Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny and sings in "Kickapoo." It is awesome.
- Past in The Rearview Mirror: "Objects In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are"
- Recycled Soundtrack: "Seize the Night", from Bat Out Of Hell III', features lyrics from the English version of Tanz der Vampire, a string intro borrowed from Steinman's Bad For Good album, and the guitar riff from "Good Girls Go To Heaven (Bad Girls Go Everywhere)."
- Rock Opera: "Bat Out of Hell" and "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" both tell a self-contained story. The remainder of the Bat Out Of Hell album, while not operatic in theme, certainly has a Wagnerian vibe to it.
- Self-Deprecation: He really doesn't think much of his own songwriting abilities (although the title track on Midnight at the Lost and Found is popular with his fans).
- Shaggy Dog Story: "Wasted Youth", a spoken word piece on Bat Out of Hell II which parodies "The End" by The Doors and builds up to an epic punchline.
And just as I was about to bring the guitar crashing down upon the center of the bed, my father woke up, screaming "STOP! Wait a minute! Stop it, boy! What do you think you're doing? That's no way to treat an expensive musical instrument!" And I said "GODDAMNIT, daddy! You know I love you... but you've got a HELL of a lot to learn about ROCK AND ROLL!"
- Signature Song: "Bat Out of Hell", "Paradise By the Dashboard Light.", and most famously "I'll Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)".
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: "Life Is A Lemon And I Want My Money Back" reaches Evangelion levels of cynicism.
- Spell My Name with an "S": "Meat Loaf" is always two words, always capitalized - not "Meatloaf", not "Meat loaf", not "Loaf." And don't call him Marvin...he changed his name. He goes so far as to have himself credited as "Meat Loaf Aday" on the songs he's written.
- Hilariously invoked when Christopher Lee introduced him on Saturday Night Live, mis-reading his cue cards; "Ladies and gentlemen, I would like you to meet... Loaf!"
- In concert, Meat Loaf introduced a man he claimed to be his brother to perform the spoken word track "Wasted Youth," introducing him as "Tony Loaf".
- Spiritual Successor: Hang Cool Teddy Bear aims to be this for the Bat Out of Hell trilogy (the cover art is similar to that of the Bat series, and the back of the album has a big Roman numeral IV on it).
- Stealth Pun: He's been cannibalized on screen at least twice: once in Rocky Horror Picture Show ("Oh no, not Meat Loaf again") and once in an episode of Tales from the Crypt.
- Take That Us: The cover art for Hang Cool Teddy Bear includes the skeletal remains of the swordsman from the cover of Bat Out Of Hell III.
- Villain Song: From Bat Out of Hell III, "In the Land of the Pig, the Butcher is King," which was originally written as a Villain Song sung by the corrupt officials of Gotham City in an abandoned Batman musical.